Commuter Complaints About Lincoln Memorial Turn
I went down to the Lincoln Memorial this morning to check on the many complaints I've been getting about the new lights at the memorial circle and 23rd Street. These affect inbound commuters as they come across the Memorial Bridge from Virginia and either head up 23rd Street or travel along Bacon Drive to Constitution Avenue.
Here's one sample complaint from a reader in Alexandria:
"I commute from Alexandria to NW DC each day for work and am speechless about the change in traffic pattern from Memorial bridge around the Lincoln Memorial, toward Constitution Ave. "They have added 2 new stoplights and changed the traffic flow to be even worse than it was."
Here's the set up: As drivers come across the bridge from Virginia, they go about a quarter of the way around the circle, where they encounter traffic lights that will allow the left two lanes to turn left onto 23rd St northbound on a green arrow and the right lane to proceed a bit farther around the circle to Bacon Drive, which connects with Constitution Avenue heading east toward downtown.
The Lincoln Memorial area is one of the prettiest sites to end a major commuter route, and it's a shame people who encounter it are feeling such frustration. But at that point, they've been simmering for quite a while. One writer said traffic delays go as far back as I-395.
Looks like both the left-turn arrow and the straight-ahead light are protecting crosswalks, but during the morning rush, there are very few tourists down there. I encountered a few joggers and bicyclists, as well as the construction workers who are dealing with the larger project around the memorial. By my watch, the lights were green for 63 seconds and red for 66 seconds. The 23rd Street signal for pedestrians gives them 30 seconds to cross.
There's a sign that tells pedestrians they must push a button to call for the walk signal, but that doesn't control the sequence of the lights for drivers. It just makes pedestrians aware that they can proceed while the traffic light is red and tells them how long they've got.
I've got a call in to the Park Service to learn more. We can talk about it here or join me for the Live Online discussion at 1 p.m.
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